Historical version 5 of Husk, E14 7LW
- 020 7702 8802
- 649-651 Commercial Road, E14 7LW
- closed Mon; 8am-6pm Tue-Fri; 10am-5pm Sat; closed Sun
As well as coffee they do a few types of tea, made with teabags rather than loose-leaf, including caffeine-free varieties such as red berries and rooibos. Food is a fairly limited selection including soup, daal and naan, things on toast, and sweet and savoury pastries.
It's a fairly open-plan space, broken up with pillars and dividing walls. The overall feel is of a renovated industrial space, with cast-iron radiators, stripped-back flooring, and functional lighting. However, daylight is encouraged inside by the large glazed section of facade at the front and a skylight further back. Original art hangs on the walls, and bookshelves are placed here and there. Seating is a combination of long communal worktables, individual cafe tables, and coffee tables flanked by low sofas. In good weather, outdoor seating is provided by a roof terrace.
Although it's run by the London City Mission with the aim of "sharing the gospel" in the community, there's no pushiness about this, and the casual visitor can easily remain totally unaware of any religious connection.
Kake first visited on a Wednesday afternoon in December 2015, due to needing somewhere with wireless to do a couple of hours' work. It was fairly full when I arrived around 3pm; I got the last individual table suitable for laptop use, but there were still a few sofa seats, and there was room at the communal tables. People were engaged in all sorts of activities: working, quietly reading books, and chatting. There were still quite a few people in even when it got towards closing time. Music was playing, not too loud. On another visit on a Wednesday morning in November 2016 it was again fairly full, and I had to sit at one of the communal tables.
In December 2015, broccoli mini-quiche (£1.60) photo was pretty good; the pastry was neither hard nor crumbly, the filling was well-flavoured, and it was just right for a small bite. I also had a couple of generously-sized pots of tea, each costing £2.20: English breakfast, and red berries. The cups had a somewhat annoying design, with handle holes too small to comfortably get even one finger through.
Service on both occasions was friendly and helpful, and the staff seemed genuinely happy to be working there; perhaps a reflection of its dual purpose as a Christian mission. There was no pressure to order more tea after I finished my pot.
Free wireless is available; ask staff for the password. The space also hosts various classes including yoga, poetry, coffee appreciation, and English for non-native speakers.
Kake's verdict: A handy place to work for a few hours.
Child-friendliness: They have at least one highchair.
Accessibility: Step-free to get in, via a shallow ramp with a u-turn at the end. Automatic push-button wide double entrance doors. Once you're in, it's step-free to all areas except the roof terrace. There's a dedicated accessible toilet.